Benefits of suggestive selling | Sunday Observer

Benefits of suggestive selling

4 October, 2020

A famous anonymous funny story has been around for decades about a novice salesman selling high-value products available at the store to a customer who visited it to buy a pain relief pill, through sheer skill and intelligence.

‘Suggestive selling’, also known as ‘Upselling’ is a practice where the salesman of a commercial organisation attempts to include one or more additional products with the customer’s consent to bring in additional revenue.

Often upselling is aimed at selling products with higher values to enhance overall profit margins. Many companies, when they train their sales teams, include this vital technique in the programs. While suggestive selling is applied for retail selling more often, this is useful for any type of sales situation including online stores.

Suggestive selling can be immensely effective in an organisation to increase sales. However, the important factor is that the effort of the salesperson becomes effective only if he or she leverages the attempt in a gentle manner. If the salesperson tries to be aggressive, pushy, or obnoxious, not only will the sale fail but it can also be damaging to the organisation. Hence, apart from the skill, training is also a necessity to use this technique.

Good relationship

By asking questions and probing the intention of the visit of a customer, the salesperson can learn more about their interests, preferences and needs. This information is vital as the salesperson can suggest relevant products or services. Not only for up-selling but such information is important for the organisation’s service delivery as very often, a good relationship is built by the initial probes. With the relationship built at the beginning, the salesperson can earn the trust of the customer and position the organisation as a reliable provider of a product or a service.

A customer usually keeps one or more items in mind when he or she visits a store. A salesperson can suggest another additional product or products if he understands the purpose of the visit and learned from the initial conversation what the customer is looking for at the store. The salesman can remind the customer that there are related useful products available at the premises. Most customers appreciate this information and treat it as a pleasant service experience. The fact is that it is easier to get a customer to approve an additional product soon after the sale of the core item.

There are several techniques available for suggestive selling effort, particularly to increase sales in your brick and mortar store or online store. Let us look at some of the most effective techniques available predominantly for retail selling.

Presenting products as ideal pairs is a perfect way to enhance add-ons to boost value. Therefore, displaying matching and harmonising products together is a good technique in suggestive selling. As an example, when a customer wants to purchase a pan, recommending a cleaning liquid can be seen as a helpful and pleasing tip to a customer. The salesperson can offer the idea as advice that assists the customer on a long-term basis. In an online selling situation, the trader can use suitable upselling widgets that are complementary to the main product.

Welcoming customers to the store with a pleasant greeting instantly creates a positive ambience. At the initial stage knowing whether the customer is a first-timer or a repeat through a friendly close-ended question is also useful. If it is a first-timer, the salesperson can accompany him to the floor. If it’s a repeat visit, records of the customer’s purchase history, if available, can be a powerful tool to complete a sale with add-ons. Retailers have devised various methods to record customer histories.


Upselling effort must be practised cautiously without letting the customer feel that the salesperson is trying to dump something of high value, rather than catering to his needs. In this scenario, the salesperson must first concentrate and discuss the core purchase, unless he can offer a better alternative. Therefore, upselling must appear less like a sale and more like an opportunity to the customer. Offering special sales and offers can create enormous results while practising upselling.

Offering ‘buy more and save more’ opportunities also is a great method in suggestive selling. Any customer, irrespective of financial standing, likes to save as much as possible. This is the reason for traders to offer attractive discounts. Retailers use behavioural economics to decide this useful technique in selling. They offer ‘bundles’ and sell at lower prices to attract customers. By selling products as a bunch not only enhances purchase values but also flush out stocks faster.

Customer loyalty programs are also great suggestive selling techniques that can encourage customers to buy more. These reward plans provide a powerful incentive to purchase more. Rewarding through accumulated points is a powerful method that is being used by many large scale operators. Loyalty programs are immensely effective in FMCG and consumer durables sectors and are practiced throughout the world. This is hugely advantageous in both in-store and online selling.

Information derived through probing customer views and using their suggestions is another effective technique in suggestive selling. Often, customers’ opinions are somewhat common in a retail store and also the products they offer. Therefore, the personal views of customers are powerful tools to upgrade the quality of products or services.

Offering too many options and over-loading choices can be dangerous. It is a proven fact that more options create more barriers in any selling situation due to possible confusion and dilemma. Therefore, limiting the choices offered as add-ons is essential due to the possible risk of losing even the core product the customer initially decided.


Staff must also be trained to restrain from being over-enthusiastic and avoid ‘over-selling’ while being in suggestive selling situations with a customer. Particularly the staff should be aware of the budgets of the customer. By trying to upsell a high-value product to a customer with a limited budget, the salesperson may antagonise him and lose the sale. Besides, being assertive and do the add-on casually, without being pushy as an alternative is immensely useful.

Sales staff must be trained to make suggestive selling a habit in day-to-day work. It is a fruitful routine to practice where on one hand it makes more sales for the company and makes a customer happier on the other when suggestive selling is done as a help to the customer.

The sales team must be exceptionally thorough with the product knowledge from technical features to extended product benefits to perform up-selling successfully.

Suggestive selling is an immensely dependable way to increase the revenue of an organisation. The organisation must be armed with the right technology, the right tools, and effective training.

Starting with merchandising the store with paired products to managing incoming customers with friendly and knowledgeable sales staff will provide additional sales volumes. Setting up parameters of suggestive selling by ensuring that the staff is up to their best and engaging customers properly can create a successful up-selling operation.?